Knowing Your Eye Care Professionals (ECP)

Eye Care Professionals

If there is a suspicion that you have an eye disease, you need to visit an Eye Care Professional (ECP). The ECP that you need will depend upon your symptoms and your geography – how eye care is managed within your local healthcare environment. In some countries you can make an appointment directly with an optometrist/ophthalmologist while in other countries you will have to be referred by your family doctor or by an optician/optometrist. ECPs are largely grouped into 3 categories:


An optician

A health care professional who is trained to supply, prepare, and dispense optical appliances through interpretation of written prescriptions. An optician fits and finishes eyeglass lenses and frames and may also dispense low vision devices, contact lenses, and artificial eyes.


An optometrist

A health care professional who specializes in function and disorders of the eye, detection of eye disease, and some types of eye disease management. An optometrist conducts eye examinations, prescribes corrective contact lenses and glasses, and diagnoses and treats eye diseases and disorders.


An ophthalmologist

A medical physician who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the eye and the prevention of eye disease. An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats refractive, medical, and surgical problems related to eye diseases and disorders.

Engaging With Your Eye Care Professional

Communicating clearly with your Eye Care Professional (ECP) is essential for both of you to understand one another and to ensure that you are getting the best advice relevant to your individual circumstances. Asking questions and understanding your ECP’s responses is essential to good communication.

It is sometimes recommended that you bring a family member with you too – two pairs of ears are better than one – particularly where the family member is acting as a caregiver. Caregivers may also need to ask for advice and the best person to ask is the ECP. Additionally, while caregivers will discuss their loved one’s care with the ECP, they seldom talk about their own health, which is equally important. Building a partnership with an ECP that addresses the health needs of the individual and their caregiver, as applicable, is crucial. Ideally the responsibility for the partnership is shared between the affected individual, their caregiver, the ECP and any other healthcare professionals.

When meeting with your ECP it is important to be prepared to get the most out of these appointments. Make a list of your most important concerns and problems. Issues you might want to discuss are changes in symptoms, medications or general health, specific help or concerns that the caregiver has, etc. Remember the ECP only sees a moment in time; make sure you let them know of any concerns that exist in the routine daily environment. Remember also to enlist the help from all of those involved in your care, including nursing staff and pharmacists. Other organisations, such as local patient organisations and support groups can help too.

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